Gabriel Garnica
Jackie Robinson West outrage speaks volumes about what real racism is
By Gabriel Garnica
February 14, 2015

By now most, if not all, readers have heard that Chicago's Jackie Robison West Little League team was stripped of its U.S. title for cheating. I emphasize that last word because that is the bottom line in this despicable and disgraceful situation. All indications are that this is an airtight, open and shut case of intentionally and deliberately violating the rules of Little League to field as strong a team as possible and simply getting caught red-handed doing just that. Evidence clearly shows that the team's district was expanded to include territory belonging to other districts and had falsified a boundary map submitted for the 2014 tournament.

Evidence shows that this team violated clear Little League regulations by placing players on the team who did not qualify because they lives outside the team's boundaries. Darold Butler, the team's manager, and Michael Kelly, the league's district administrator, have both been identified as the scandal's masterminds and have been indefinitely suspended from all Little League activity. Despite whatever spin team supporters may try to put on this, the facts and general consensus all agree that this team intentionally violated clearly emphasized and known rules and knew the consequences of such violations. The fact that such cheating has occurred elsewhere and may have even occurred among other teams in this tournament does not excuse the fact that this team, which won the U.S. title, cheated.

A team whose namesake epitomized class, fair play, courage, dignity, and everything American heroism is about has been stripped of its title for cheating on, of all months, Black History Month, when we remember the importance and great contributions of legendary African-Americans such as Booker T. Washington, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, George Washington Carver, Jesse Owens and, yes, Jackie Robinson. This is an of itself is an ironic tragedy but, instead, what has followed is an even greater disgrace.

Instead of accepting the consequences of this despicable deception, speaking out directly against those who carried it out, using this result as an opportunity to spur greater regulation and respect for Little League rules across the board, and using this situation as a tool for teaching young people in the team and everywhere the importance of fair play, respecting the rules, and exhibiting the kind of class for which Jackie Robinson was so famous, the so-called adults protesting this decision have managed to turn a tragedy into a disgraceful demonstration of precisely what true racism and a total absence of character really look like.

Jesse Jackson; Michael Pfleger; Chicago Teachers' Union President Karen Lewis; Barack Obama; Rahm Emanuel; Chicago Mayoral candidates Bob Fioretti, Willie Wilson, and Jesus Garcia; and Veteran Ald. Carrie Austin, 34th, all publicly supported the team, arguing that the actions of some adults should not be allowed to impact on the young people they coached. Jackson, Pfleger, Lewis, and Austin all openly cited racism as the motivating factor behind the action, and Wilson spewed the mindless drivel that "Children are more important than rules." Under Wilson's warped logic, it is acceptable to break and ignore rules as long as kids are happy. What Wilson mindlessly forgets is that other children were harmed by the Jackie Robinson West team's cheating, so perhaps his real message is "our children are more important than other children and than any rules."

To make matters worse, there are various accusations that Jackie Robinson West Little League has been cheating and doing things the wrong way for at least 25 years and that such cheating does happen across the system, but is usually caught at an earlier level than in this instance.

In summary, the twisted logic of Jackie Robinson West supporters is that 1. The actions of adults should not be allowed to punish the accomplishments of the young people they supervise 2. The team's accomplishment is not tainted, hence they should still be honored, called, and considered champions 3. Any actions against this team are purely racist. 4. In any event, the motives involved were good ( trying to help kids excel, accomplish something, etc) so they should not be punished for what happened 5. Besides, other teams do it, and this team is just being singled out because of their race.

It is foolish to pretend that using deliberate deception to expand the pool of available players so as to maximize player quality is not cheating and unfair to other teams. It is also foolish, then, to pretend that winning any title through such cheating is not tainted, and should therefore not be considered a legitimate title. Thus, calling the players of such a team champions despite their disqualification is a defiant rejection of legitimate authority and an insult to the other teams involved. While it is impossible to definitely prove that race had nothing to do with this investigation, the fact remains that Little League officials took a long time to make the decision precisely because they were trying to be thorough, and not rush to judgment. Protestors argue that this delay in judgment speaks of bias yet, had the decision been made quickly, they would have argued that due diligence was not practiced due to racism.

The arguments that people's motives were good and the kids should not be punished for it is also weak, since we all know that ends do not justify the means and kids will be hurt by this decision one way or the other since, as argued before, other kids in other teams were hurt by this cheating as well. Finally, the pathetic argument that other teams cheat and it is unfair to single out this team is mindless precisely because a champion team which has cheated is exactly the kind of team you want to make an example to discourage cheating in the future.

If truth be told, the actions of Jackie Robinson West officials, and their supporters, slur the very name of Jackie Robinson, who represented exactly the opposite values and virtues shown by these adults. These acts also slur the very essence of Black History Month, which is to honor and highlight the very positive influences and contributions of great African-Americans to our country. The despicable, shameful, and disgraceful pandering and accusations of this team's supporters only reminds us that true racism occurs when we whip out the race and victim cards to justify anything we do, in total disregard of integrity, honesty, fair play, and decency. As an inner city school teacher for a number of years, I have personally seen what happens when parents and adults in the lives of young people teach them that ignoring and breaking rules is the right way to combat past injustice, perceived or real. The great African-Americans we honor during Black History Month demonstrated to all of us that true greatness is achieved by those who do not spit at rules but, rather, transcend them in integrity, honor, personal responsibility, and self-respect. Jackie Robinson did not cheat to achieve greatness, nor would he have justified it because others did. Rather, he took personal responsibility, integrity, and honesty to a new level and is a beacon of greatness to which any American, African-American or not, can and should aspire.

Our biggest problem, however, is that our leadership on all levels, and the mainstream media, have long ago brushed aside the core values Jackie personified. Instead of rising above injustice, dishonesty, and corruption, these so-called guardians of our children swim in it even as they pretend to preach to all of us on their levels of nobility and integrity. Every time someone plays the race or victim card to justify immorality, fraud, and corruption, they spit on the memory of great Americans like Jackie Robinson, who humble all of us with their virtue and ethical code.

Whether or not the Jackie Robinson West team knew what was going on, they are not being taught that doing right is always the right call. Instead, they are being carefully and faithfully infected with the despicable and disgraceful knee jerk habit of playing the race and victim card whenever the game of life is not going well. Let us honor those African-Americans, and Americans in general, who embody and exemplify the virtue, courage, nobility, personal responsibility, and integrity about which that the adults supporting Jackie Robinson West have no clue.

© Gabriel Garnica


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)


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